Accessibility statement

Persianisms: Cultural Encounters in the Anglophone World

Thursday 10 December 2020, 9.00AM to Saturday 12 Dec

This colloquium is underpinned by our conviction that relationships between Iran and the West are as important and urgent as ever. It aims to explore the range and depth of the exchanges and encounters that connect Anglophone and Persian cultures across centuries of contact from antiquity to the present-day manifest in poetry, diplomacy, religious polemic, scholarship, travel narratives, material culture, art, and curatorship.

We invite proposals from all disciplines and all career stages, including postgraduate, and early career researchers. We welcome proposals for traditional short papers, or for presentations that exploit the online format in other ways, e.g. short discussions of single images, objects, or texts, or group roundtable discussions. As a guide, the contribution of any individual should not exceed 20mins.

In particular we solicit proposals that speak to, or cross over, our three main themes: literature and languagematerial culture and political culture, including the following:

  • The roles and functions that “Persia” (as it was known by Europeans before the 1930s) has played in the imagination of English-speaking writers, scholars, commentators, and artists.
  • How notions of Persia and Persian have shaped the English language and its cultures.
  • Representations of Iran in English poetry, fiction and travelogues.
  • The influence of Persian and Islamic models in the history of the English book.
  • Cultures of scholarship including Orientalisms, Islamic studies and Indo-European philology.
  • The expressions and legacies of Persian culture in the Anglophone world through collectors and curators and the role of galleries, libraries, museums, and archaeological collections.
  • The extent of ‘Persian’ distinctiveness within spheres of material exchange and interaction across the Middle East and India and between those regions and Europe.
  • The histories of encounters between Anglophone and Persianate political and economic interests including the reception and representation of Persian history over time.
  • Conflicts, revolutions, flashpoints and radical change, from the Mongol invasions to the Great Game, oil and the 1979 Revolution.
  • Cultural and historical expressions of Perso and Islamo-phobia and -philia.
  • Histories of religious and political polemic.
  • The cultural life of Islam in its various forms, including Shi’ism and Sufism, in the Anglophone imagination.
  • The dynamics of gender, race, sexuality, and power at work in cross-cultural encounters and exchanges.

Confirmed speakers include Prof Lloyd Ridgeon (Reader in Islamic Studies, University of Glasgow) and Dr Nur Sobers-Khan (Lead Curator, South Asian Collections, British Library).

Please send proposals of no more than 200 words to by Saturday 15 August. Proposals should be accompanied by a 50-word biography, and an indication (if known at this point) of your availability between 10-12 December.

Joanna de Groot (History/Centre for C18th Studies/Centre for Modern Studies)
Shazia Jagot       (English/Centre for Medieval Studies)
James Williams    (English/Centre for Modern Studies)

Location: Zoom virtual event